Scene & Heard by Heidi Kurpiela

Scene & Heard 04.22.10

Posted April 21, 2010 at 7:00 am

by Heidi Kurpiela

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+ ‘Deadly Closure’ lures hometown crowd
After enjoying three sold-out screenings at the Sarasota Film Festival, the cast and crew of “Deadly Closure” finally had their red-carpet moment at the official premiere Tuesday, April 13, at Hollywood 20.
Shot entirely in Sarasota, the film, a thriller starring Fort Lauderdale actress Lisa Varga, stood out against a bevy of serious and non-local documentaries shown at the festival. Of the 40 actors with speaking parts, 32 were Sarasota residents.

Directed by Sarasota filmmaker Andrzej Mrotek, “Deadly Closure” was one of a handful of film submissions to make the festival’s final 168 films, most of which were included via invitation only.

Thanks to familiar faces (Players Theatre’s Jeffrey Kin, photog extraordinaire Cliff Roles and Big Cat Habitat’s Kay Rosaire) and places (Island Park, the Ringling Bridge and PAL Sailor Circus), “Deadly Closure” became the first film in SFF’s 12-year history to garner four sold-out screenings.

With the buzz surrounding the flick, you’d think producer and writer Alan Cameron Roberts could get someone else to roll out his red carpet.

An hour before the film’s third screening, Roberts, a Siesta Key resident and head of DeVere Films, was seen lugging stanchions and fastening his own velvet rope.



Tribute a success despite volcanic drama
“So-and-so couldn’t be here, so we accept this award on his behalf … ” That was the theme of the Sarasota Film Festival’s John Landis tribute Saturday night, at the Sarasota Opera House.

Landis, whose films include “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Coming to America,” was unable to make it to his tribute after all flights leaving the United Kingdom were grounded last week following a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

To make up for the absence, the director, who is in London shooting his latest film, appeared via Internet, his face projected on a movie screen.

Asked what he thought of his film montage, which kicked off with a live performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Landis remarked: “It was strange. I felt like I had died.”

Landis wasn’t the only filmmaker missing from the event. The winners of almost every other award presented were also MIA. But, despite its no-shows, the Landis tribute had its fair share of celebrities, including actors Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Vincent D’Onofrio and Ben Foster.

The night was especially whirlwind for Vincent Fraser, who designed the SFF logo and married his wife, Paula, an hour before walking the red carpet with Trinity Graphics CEO Robert Smithson. Smithson performed the couple’s marriage ceremony at his Sarasota home.

+ Cult following turns out for Highwaymen

In conjunction with this month’s Florida Highwaymen exhibit at Art Center Sarasota, painter Mary Ann Carroll appeared April 15 at a special program honoring her work. Carroll is the sole female member of the Florida Highwaymen, a group of 26 self-taught African-American painters who, throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, painted some 200,000 paintings of native Florida landscapes.

The steely 70-year-old artist spoke about her experiences before a packed crowd Thursday night following the screening of “Poinciana Sunrise,” a short documentary about Carroll shot by “Project Runway” cameraman Chuck Gomez.

“People have come out of the woodwork for this exhibit,” said Lisa Berger, Art Center development director. “It has a real cult following.”

+ Hot tickets

‘Jar the Floor’: The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 10th anniversary season comes to an end with “Jar the Floor,” a comedy-drama about four generations of women. The show stars Alice Gatling as the granddaughter, whom audiences might recognize from her powerhouse performance as Mama Nadi in Florida Studio Theater’s “Ruined.” The show opens April 23 and runs through May 9.

‘Backwards in High Heels’:
Class up your “Dancing With the Stars” habit with the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Ginger Rogers musical, opening May 7, in the Mertz Theatre. The six-member cast is led is by actress Anna Aimee White, who spent last month as Rogers in the same production at International City Theatre, in Long Beach, Calif. The show spans Rogers’ life from her days as a Vaudeville dancer to an Oscar-winning actress.



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